Also: A D.C. painter capitalizes on the city’s light, remarkable cutouts and drawings inspired by the past
Review by Mark Jenkins (The Washington Post)
January 20, 2023 at 6:00 a.m. EST
The only tool Rosa Leff uses directly in making her cutout-paper vignettes is a knife. Yet a camera is also essential to the well-traveled Baltimore artist’s Pyramid Atlantic Art Center show, “Pastports.” Leff carves her photographed cityscapes, most of them remarkably intricate, into single-color silhouettes. Included are views of Coney Island and Puerto Rico, but among the most impressive accomplishments are street scenes from Japan and China in which the jostling pedestrians are outnumbered by hordes of commercial signs.
The cutouts are usually incised into sheets of brightly colored paper and placed in front of a white background. Occasionally, Leff complicates the visual schemes by employing colored or patterned backdrops. One of the most painstaking pieces, “Escape,” is a black-paper rendering of telephone poles and webs of electrical lines that provide perches for a dozen or so birds. The artist attached the delicate silhouette to clear glass so that the mostly thin lines cast wispy shadows on the wall beyond. “Escape” is the emptiest of these pictures, but Leff’s 3D gambit makes it one of the most complex.